Mar 22, 2009

Musings and Rantings

I was reading my march copy of Birdwatchng when I saw the disturbing report of the disappearance breeding farm birds across Wales. In particular the Curlew, Lapwing and golden plover. For us I suppose we don’t really have a big population of breeding Golden plover but we do have substantial breeding populations of Curlew and Lapwing. They are birds that I take for granted here. In winter we have abundant wintering populations and the first bubbling of amorously intent Curlews herald the opening of the daffodils and the arrival of spring.
It comes as a sobering thought that I may have more wintering Curlews in a square mile of where I am sitting than will breed successfully across the whole of Wales. It seems that changes in agricultural land use that are to blame here. More land is being drained and the habitat for breeding lost. More intensification in meat production is seeing hay fields lost to silage production. This to is a problem that is reflected here on Orkney with silage production becoming more intensive. A hay crop might be cut once in a year but an industrious farmer may cut silage from the same field three times over the summer season. This brings a host of problems. There is a lot of fertiliser used that runs off, The grass grown is a mono culture and the diversity of insect life is reduced, The silage crop may provide some nesting opportunities for Lapwing but most birds don’t like it. In the densely planted grasses the fledged young cannot move freely enough or fast enough to escape the farmers machinery when they start to cut. Lapwings may attempt three clutches in a year so it’s a sickening thing to see clutch after clutch fall to the harvester. In short areas of Orkney are virtual bio deserts. To see such a situation has developed across the whole of a country the size of Wales is nothing short of catastrophic. As a nation the UK should hold its head in shame for this state of affairs. I know fine enough its not just Wales and this is mirrored in counties like Lincolnshire as well thing is though what is to be done?
In the long term I think all agricultural production needs to be moved away from supplying global exports and redirected to supplying national needs in a framework of a national sustainable permaculture system with protection of the wild biodiversity with in and outside of its boundaries as a basic tenant.
In the medium term I would like to see a European wide spread expansion of support for habitat repair and creation. A subsidised introduction to sustainable agriculture and permaculture systems. Protection enshrined in national and international law for sensitive areas of migration fly ways like estuarine waters and feeding areas.
In the short term I would expand habitat support schemes from the Hen Harriers all the way to reintroducing set aside to be run with bio diversity in mind notletting the ground be sterlised by round up!! Let people have the choice to have 5% of their PAYE go to a ring fenced environmental development fund instead of the treasury’s coffers.
And some thing to give all those chicks being hatched out there in the agro assault courses that are supposed to be fields. The government should immediate enact a law (reflected across Europe) requiring all farmers to harvest all from the centre of the field in an eccentric fashion. Thus giving the chick’s some slightly improved chance of survival.
Any way this is all just musings brought about by the sad state of Teeick’s and Whaups across Wales. A lot of folks will look at this and say so what, there’s nothing I can do its all to big. Well there is cos we are the people, if we all shout together we can be heard anywhere. Just look at the membership of the RSPB. There are more of us paying dues than members of all the political parties combined ,and that’s just the mainstream RSPB. Its time to make your voices heard. There is an election coming! It will be time for them to take heed of what we say and come forward with solid commitments to stop the world going down the toilet. The world is changing for the worse we need to make a change for the radical better. Its an awful thought to think of a country as fine as Wales to no longer have the cries of Curlews cutting across the air or the swooping antics of displaying lapwings gone from the landscape.
We can make a difference…will we?......shall we?....YEA LETS!

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